Indonesian Beef Curry

OK so this is not really a curry, not as you might know it, but it caught your attention nonetheless. Growing up in Australia, we get exposed to a huge range of Asian culinary influences but, here in the UK it’s very much focused on Chinese, Japanese and Indian. It’s great to see Thai restaurants and street-food stalls popping up and Vietnamese is gaining traction in London, but Indonesian food is yet to have any sort of impact. I’ve always thought of Indonesian food as similar to Malaysian; a milder blend of flavours yet strong with umami. Not overly spicy or sour, the Indonesian food I’ve tried has been on the sweeter and highly savoury side of things and is therefore perfect for emerging palates.

This beef curry is perfect to share with your family (little ones included) because the chillies can simply be taken out of the recipe with no loss of flavour and it’s cheap because you can use beef cuts like ‘gravy’, ‘stewing’, shin or chuck. Serve up with fragrant steamed jasmine rice and some crisp and healthy greens like brocoli, snow peas, bok choy or brocolini.

If you want to reduce the fat in this meal, replace coconut milk for evaporated milk and if you have it, add a few drops of coconut essence to keep that flavour profile authentic. You can find lemongrass in jars, pre-prepared, but otherwise they usually appear in a pre-packaged Asian vegetable pack (along with baby corn, chilie and snow peas). This is a great recipe to try if you’re not overly confident in the kitchen as the flavours are forgiving and you can easily correct any out-of-balance flavours with some saucy tweaks. If you’re feeling exotic, squeeze one lime into the sauce before serving to really ramp up the flavour.

You can use a slow cooker or oven to slow-cook this dish, but you mustn’t leave out the browning step or cooking off the paste otherwise the flavour will not be rich. When it comes to rice, for perfectly steamed jasmine rice, a Chinese friend once told me that you cover the rice in the saucepan with enough water cover to cover just your finger tip (or about 1.5cm). Bring it to the boil and then simmer very gently till cooked. If you’ve got a spare stick of lemongrass on hand, pop that in as the rice cooks and it becomes even more fragrant.

Balinese Beef Curry

500g stewing beef, diced
1 large onion, sliced
baby corn
200 ml coconut milk
4 tbs kecap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 tbs fish sauce
handful of cashews, ground
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 beef stock pod

For the curry paste:
1 red chili
1 red onion
2 garlic cloves
3cm piece of ginger, sliced
4cm stick of lemongrass, sliced
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 tbs oil

In a small blender/food processor blend the ingredients of the curry paste. Put aside.
Brown the beef and onion well in a large sauce pan.
Add the curry paste and saute with the browned beef and onion, for about 1-2 minutes.
Add all the other ingredients, except the coconut milk and baby corn and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and then simmer with the lid on for 1-2 hours.
In the final 10 minutes, add the sliced baby corn and coconut milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the corn is cooked.
Serve with steamed rice.